Last updated on April 28, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, travelling and renting cars In Spain

How old do you have to be to rent a car in Spain

I usually like to keep my articles to the bare essentials and in this case, the short answer is that the minimum age requirement to rent and drive a car in Spain is 18 years.

In saying that, it’s not as easy to find a provider where you can hire a car at that young age. Typically they require you to have 12 months of experience, which may be not a problem if you come from the USA.

But there is more, like additional fees, credit card needs, vehicle restrictions etc.

In this post, you will discover all you need to know before you book a car, and the essential information to take a decision.

Waiting for the courtesy van to take us to the car rental outside the airport to collect the vehicle
Waiting for the courtesy van to take us to the car rental outside the airport to collect the vehicle

What is the Minimum Age Requirement to Rent a Car in Spain

Renting a car in Spain opens up a world of opportunities to explore its diverse landscapes, from the sun-kissed places of the Costa del Sol to the amazing Spanish islands.

In Spain, the minimum age to drive a car is 18 years old meanwhile you typically need to be at least 21 years old to rent a car, but it’s not always true.

The age can vary significantly between different rental companies, with some allowing drivers as young as 18 to rent certain types of vehicles, usually economical or compact vehicles (we will see in the next chapter how to find these exceptions).

In saying that, you should also know that age is just one piece of the puzzle. Rental companies often assess a ‘young driver surcharge‘ for those under 25 years old. This fee compensates for the perceived increased risk associated with younger drivers.

The type of car you can rent might also be influenced by your age. Higher-end models or larger vehicles are often restricted to more experienced drivers, usually those over 25.

Finally, some rental suppliers may require additional documentation for younger drivers or impose different age-related policies. These are typically listed in the “Drivers Requirements” included in the “Rental Conditions

Key Points to Remember:

  1. Minimum Age: Generally 21 years of age, but can be as low as the age of 18 in some cases.
  2. Driver Surcharge: Tipically under 25 will have to pay additional fees.
  3. Vehicle Restrictions: Higher-end or larger vehicles may have higher age limits and you will be restricted to small cars only.
  4. Driver Requirements: Read the section in the terms and conditions to find other possible required documentation.
  5. Driving Area Restrictions: There may be limitations on where you can drive the rental car. Some companies restrict young drivers to certain geographical areas.
Taking photos and videos at pickup and drop off time
Taking photos and videos at pickup and drop-off time

Car hire for an 18 Year Old: What You Need to Know to drive in Spain

In Spain, the age of 18 is when you are legally allowed to start driving, however, rental providers often have their own policies. Some may allow it but this usually comes with specific conditions and possibly higher costs.

But let’s jump straight to the point. Let me show you the process with a few screenshots for a better and easier understanding.

I usually book my cars on DiscoverCars, a website that has no small prints, it provides the best deals between local and international players, plus it offers full insurance for just 8 Euros/day (more on this later)

I like it because it works like Airbnb in a way that they rank all providers based on customer’s feedback, so it’s easy to spot the fishy companies.

Now, let’s start with the booking process. Add your age (24 for the below example, like in the screenshot below) together with your country of residence.

Adding the country of residence and the age of 24
Adding the country of residence and the age of 24

The results are then categorized by type of car (small, medium, etc) and sorted by price. For the sake of clarity, I have done a second search below for the age of 18.

You can easily spot a difference of around 200 Euros for a reservation as a 24 years old (above) and as an 18-year-old (below) for exact same period. Some categories are also missing for the younger age (SUV, Large Cars, etc)

Key Points to Remember:

  1. Set your Age: add your age and country of residence when booking a car
  2. Limited options: Cars categories are limited and rental prices are higher for the younger drivers.

Booking from the age of 19 to 23 years old

The process is exactly the same as for the 18-year-old. Independently from where you book your car, the older you are the cheaper it becomes.

Interestingly enough, a few rentals have an upper limit, usually 70 to 80 years old.

Key Point to Remember:

  1. The myth is burst: you don’t need a minimum age of 21 to hire a car in Spain
Driving through a Spanish village at siesta time
Driving through a Spanish village at siesta time (nobody around)

The need for one year of driving licence experience

This is another important thing to keep in mind.

Most car hire companies in Spain not only consider your age but also the length of time you’ve held your driving license. A common requirement is having at least one year of driving experience, regardless of your age.

This policy is in place to mitigate the risks associated with inexperienced drivers.

When making a reservation, check the Rental Conditions (left bottom corner).

Checking the rental conditions before making any booking
Checking the Rental Conditions before making any reservation

Once in the Rental Conditions, open the Driver Requirements window. For the example below, the provider needs 1 year. In other cases, I have seen even 24 months.

The need for one year of driving licence experience
The need for one year of driving licence experience

Basically, this means that you will be able to rent a car at 18 years old only if you were licensed at 16 or 17, which only a few countries in the world alllow.

Key Point to Remember:

  1. Check Specific Driver Requirements Policies: Some car companies might be more lenient with this rule, especially for smaller or economy-class vehicles

Do you need a Credit Card for Car Rentals?

Typically, most car rental companies in Spain do require a credit card in the main driver’s name. This is primarily for security purposes, as a credit card provides a straightforward way to handle the deposit and any additional charges, such as fines or damage costs.

Some companies may accept debit cards, but this often comes with stricter conditions, like higher deposits or additional identification.

Cash and Prepaid are almost never accepted.

I have written extensively on how to look for rentals accepting debits (plus my personal trick) in my guide on how to rent a car without a credit card in Spain.

“While a credit card simplifies the car rental process in Spain, it’s not the end of the road if you don’t have one. Exploring alternative options and being well-prepared can pave the way for a successful rental experience.”

Paying the highway with a debit card
Paying the highway with a debit card

Choosing the Right Rental Car for Young Drivers

The choice of vehicle can significantly impact both the comfort and cost of your journey. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed decision:

Car TypeProsCons
EconomyCost-effective, fuel-efficientLess space, basic features
CompactEasy to maneuver, affordableLimited trunk space
IntermediateMore comfort, better featuresHigher cost, more fuel usage

Pro Tip: Always inspect the car thoroughly before driving off. Check for any existing damage and ensure all features work as expected.

As previously mentioned, the younger you are the more limited choice in models you have.

Navigating Rental Insurance for Young Drivers:

Some car companies offer comprehensive packages, while others require separate insurance for certain risks.

I have talked extensively in my guide about rental car insurance in Spain. This is a quick table that briefly summarizes the possible coverage.

Insurance TypeCoverageCostProsCons
Third-Party Liability (TPL)Damages to othersUsually includedMandatory by law, basic protectionDoesn’t cover damage to the car hire in Spain
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) Damage to the rental carVaries based on excessReduces financial liability for damagesOften has an excess/deductible
Full Insurance (Todo Riesgo)Comprehensive coverageHigher, optionalCovers most scenarios, peace of mindMore expensive, may have exclusions
Optional Add-OnsGlass, tires, undercarriage, etc.Additional costTailored coverage for specific risksCan increase overall rental cost

TPL and CDW are usually included in the rental contract, however, the Damage Waver has typically an excess/deductible of 1,000 to 3,000 Euro which I suggest covering with Full Insurance (8 Euro/day on DiscoverCars).

Additional Fees and Restrictions for Young Renters

Extra charges are often seen as a way for car hire companies to offset the risk of renting to younger, less experienced drivers. You have two common additional Fees for young drivers:

  1. Young Driver Surcharge: This is a common extra fee applied to drivers typically under the age of 25. It varies by hiring company and can significantly increase the overall cost.
  2. Higher Excess: Young drivers usually face higher deductibles on the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Theft Protection (TP).

You can see the deductibles in the Protection window of the Rental Conditions, meanwhile, the extra charge for young drivers is shown in the Driver Requirements.

The deductible for this provider is, for example, 1,100 Euros
The deductible for this provider is, for example, 1,100 Euros

Hopefully, I was able to clear out all of your doubts. However, if you still have any questions, leave a comment below. I usually answer in no time. Happy drive in Spain

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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